Formed by Jack White and Brendan Benson in 2005, The Raconteurs seemed destined to follow in the hallowed footsteps of White’s other band, The White Stripes. They found immediate success with their debut single, “Steady, As She Goes,” and the track’s popularity created sky-high expectations for the band’s debut album. Yet, when Broken Boy Soldiers came out in 2006, those expectations weren’t really met.
Broken Boy Soldiers has a few solid moments—”Store Bought Blues” and the title track are both excellent—but they’re too few and far between for the album to be anything more than average. The same could also be said about the band’s slightly better 2008 follow-up, Consolers of the Lonely, which saw White and company meander through a 55-minute, 14-song track list.
Eleven years later, the band returns with their third album, Help Us Stranger. In short, it’s their best album to date. However, that’s not really saying much.
Only five of the record’s 12 tracks are worthwhile—those being “Bored and Razed,” “Help Me Stranger,” “Don’t Bother Me,” “Hey Gyp (Dig the Slowness),” and “Sunday Driver”—but the remainder of the album falls completely flat. The songwriting on “Now That You’re Gone” and “Somedays (I Don’t Feel Like Trying)” comes off as especially stilted and unoriginal, while each down-tempo track on the album is yawn-inducing.
The Raconteurs have the ability to make a timeless album. The lively performances on “Sunday Driver” and “Bored and Razed” showcase White’s and Benson’s strength in writing a hook that sticks, but the band seems content with releasing an album half-full of forgettable music. The return of The Raconteurs is certainly exciting, but the band’s latest effort falls short of true rock greatness once again.